Nothing about the Indo–Pak cricket series is normal. The unexpected parallel feed on DD was just the beginning. The distribution problems that TEN Sports faced and the different commercials on both channels on the first day meant red light for advertisers. Now, with the one-dayers over and the ratings of the first three matches out, where certain facts are clear, a few questions remain unanswered.
Before we look at the ratings, there are a few points one must consider. To begin with, except for the first ODI, all commercials aired during the series were same on both the channels. Hence, second match onwards it is the cumulative ratings of the two channels that the planners are looking at - a plus point that the first match failed to offer.
Second noteworthy aspect is that ratings do indicate that in areas like Mumbai, Chennai and Bangalore, TEN Sports has not managed to garner numbers vis-à-vis areas like Kolkata, Delhi and Hyderabad. Planners still have no concrete reasons why this is the case but the coming in of DD and the free spots essentially proved to be a boon.
Now speaking strictly on the match ratings, unlike the first match, the second match on March 16, 2004 has a good report card. In the all-India market, target C&S 4+ registers a cumulative TVR of 17.73 and the C&S male 15+ gets 19.93. As for the third match, C&S 4+ gets a cumulative of 13.49 and C&S male 15+ registers 15.84. “We expected a 20+ and if you look at the cumulative ratings between both the channels, it does get there,” says Punitha Arumugam, CEO, Madison Media (West).
Manish Porwal, General Manager - Investment & New Initiatives, Starcom hums a similar tune. He echoes: “Honestly, it is a bit lower than what we were looking at. For the male C&S TG, we expected it to cross the figure of 20. Cumulatively the two channels are just short of it. A reason could be the last-minute frequency adjustments that cable operators did, which was probably not captured by TAM.”
However, If things would follow the original plan and the series would have appeared only on TEN Sports, could it be that the channel would register more ratings? “That is difficult to answer,” replies Porwal, “May be DD coming in reduced TEN Sports ratings or maybe it just turned out to be the advertiser’s saviour. You don’t know the cause and effect here.”
If one might think that a reason behind TEN Sport’s ratings is the fact that DD aired the match and hence most people didn’t even tune in the channel, planners voice a different belief. PRP Nair, Sr Vice President, Media Direction observes, “I am not sure how many cable operators are showing TEN Sports even now. It does not have a reach like Star Sports and ESPN. The Modi group could not give it right kind of distribution. Everyone saw the match on DD network and many didn’t even try to tune in TEN Sports.”
“TEN Sports did have a problem in Mumbai and that only got aggravated when DD came in the picture,” adds Porwal. Looking at an area-wise rating might help here. For the second match, the target C&S 15+ in Bangalore garners a 12.0 for DD1 as against TEN’s 6.1. In Chennai for the same target, where DD1 gets a 14.0, TEN Sports gets 0.3. Looking at the Mumbai market, DD1 grosses 18.3 in comparison to TEN’s 1.7. Third match doesn’t paint a different picture either. For the same target, DD1 has 9.8 and TEN a 3.9 in Bangalore. Chennai records 7.8 for DD1 and 0.1 for TEN and Mumbai gets a 14.9 for DD1 and 1.3 for TEN. The picture is a complete reversal in Kolkata, Delhi and Hyderabad.
This reflects the problems that TEN Sports faced in its telecast in different areas. Had DD not in the picture, it’s anyone’s guess what the CPRPs would look like for the matches.
Another interesting point here is the difference in the ratings on March 16, 2004 in comparison to March 13 and March 19, 2004. “This is because March 16 is a day-night match and it generally records a higher rating,” reflects Nair. However, what is more interesting here is that, these high ratings meant a toll at mass channels.
Every prime time programme, irrespective of the channel, saw a drop in viewership. Sony’s Jassi… and Kkusum came down to 2.41 and 2.44 respectively for C&S 4+. Perhaps the leaders were the worst hit. Kahaani fell to a 6.06, Kasautii to a 8.26, Kehta to 4.58 and Kyunki (only the first half was taken by the match) to a 13.99.
Were the planners expecting this? “I don’t think only the planners but even the advertisers were expecting this,” responds Porwal. Arumugam adds: “Advertisers would have refrained from putting in money on these days.” Nair agrees, saying: “This was already expected. When cricket is happening we only put money on news and cricket.” All attempts to contact DD and Ten Sports proved futile.